St. Nicholas College Rabat Primary – School History

The Government Primary Schools in Malta started after the arrival of the Royal Commission in Malta in 1836. We know for certain that in 1839 there were primary schools for boys and girls in Mdina, which eventually were transferred to Rabat in 1853. However, we find that in 1881 some refurbishment works were carried out on the Banca Giuratale, which later on started being used as a primary school.

The primary schools in Rabat do not seem to have had problems of accomodation, perhaps due to the fact that the ‘Banca Giuratale’ in Mdina was also being used as a school. But the building being used by the children does not seem to have been suitable, so much that in a letter written in 1894, it was said that there was the need for a new school to be built.

The first steps towards the building of a primary school:

If in Rabat, during the last years of the nineteenth century, a primary school was built, it was all mainy due to the interest that was shown by the Honourable Gann Karlu dei Marchesi Mallia Tabone, who in the elections for the Government Council, which took place on the 5th and 6th September, was elected to represent the sixth electoral district which included Rabat in the Government Council.

In the Government Council session of the 16th November 1892, the Honourable Mallia Tabone asked the Principal Government Secretary, Count Gerald Strickland, if the land on which the Rabat primary school had to be built was yet identified. In the event that the answer was in the affirmative Government was asked to indicate the site that was chosen.

Count Strickland informed the Honourable Mallia Tabone that the site had been decided upon in reports that had been prepared by the Superintendent of Workd and the Director of Education who both agreed to recommend a site in College Street near the Sacristy of St Paul’s Cave.

Mr Mallia Tabone kept on insisting for the building of a new school in Rabat, so much so that at the session of the Governement Council which was held on 22nd March 1893, asked the government Principal Secretary whether the government would find any objection if for one of the sessions which follow he were to put forward to the Government Council Supplementary Estimates for the building of the school, as the building plan was already prepared. Count Strickland in the name of the Government informed him that he was authorised to say that the Government had decided to ask the Council to approve funds for the building of the school in the General Estimates of 1894.
As it seemed that things were moving rather slowly on the 15th of January 1894, the Hon Mallia Tabone wrote to Count Strickland and asked him to take immediate steps to commence the building of the new school in Rabat. In a reply letter dated 19th January, Mallia Tabone was informed that ‘the subject is receiving the careful consideration of the Government’. But, because things did not seem to be moving, the Hon. Mallia tabone on his part, on the 19th of May 1894, wrote once again to the Principal Government Secretary. In his letter he informed Count Gerald Strickland that requests were continually being made to him regarding the new school in Rabat. But on his part he could do nothing except to ask the Government Principal Secretary to intervene so that the school in question could be built.

Every beginning has an end. After the long process of four years between correspondence and building, the construction was finished. On the 24th of August 1896, the Superintendent of Public Works, P. Trapani, wrote to the acting Principal Secretary of the Government and informed him that:
The new primary school at Rabat has been completed, and that the keys will be delivered to the Director of Education on the 26th or 27th instant. The school may therefore be made use from the 1st of next month.

So, with effect from the scholastic year 1896/1897 all the children in Rabat had at their disposal a new school, which had been built thanks to the efforts of Mr. Gann Karl Mallia Tabone.